Mohamed Mounir is a multi-talented man. Not only a good composer and singer, he's also forged a career for himself as an actor in Egypt. But it's the music that's on show here, his individual take on Sufi songs from Egypt and Sudan filtered through the Nubian musical sensibility that's been his focus. The results are more than satisfying, from the aching "Madad" to the decidedly wonderful "Absheru Ya Shabab," which merges the Nubian funk of an Ali Hassan Kuban with the influence of Prince. While some tracks can go a little over the top, like "Allahoo Ya Allahoo," others, like "Ashraka Al Badru," are perfectly rooted in desert soil. Of special interest is the German version of "Madad," much more stripped down -- voice, the traditional qunan (a hammered dulcimer), and the accompaniment of an oompah brass band -- and more magical than it sounds on paper. Appended for good measure are instrumental versions of three cuts, which work well and bring out some different aspects, like the complex rhythms backing "Salli Ya Wahab Al Safa," for instance. An excellent record. ~ Chris Nickson, Rovi

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